The FBB family is wide enough now that its members span the globe! Currently based in Geneva, Katie Hayes (pictured right) has volunteered for FBB in a variety of roles in the past and plays for the FBB Warriors team when in London. Yesterday she attended a United Nations Human Rights Council hosted event at the UN Palais. The event – ‘Sports and sports values education as a means to promote local integration and enhance the protection of human rights of refugees and migrants’ marked an important milestone for the international community. Here is Katie’s summary of the event:
The idea that sports can help bring communities together, amplify the voices of disadvantaged people and promote values of respect, dignity, diversity and equality is not new. These are the kinds of values that FBB promotes within all its work. This event added more evidence to support these ideas by focusing on the case of the Refugee Olympic team. The participation of a refugee team in the Rio Olympics, for the first time in history, has provided an opportunity for us to think differently about refugees and migrants – not as displaced bodies stranded in international waters, but as people, with hopes and dreams, and who are capable of greatness. It also shows the true enrichment that refugees and migrants can bring to their new communities.
This milestone represents hope, giving a voice to those who have fled war, awakening hope where there previously was despair. Most refugees struggle with learning new languages as they arrive in their new countries, but sport, and football, are truly universal languages. Sport can provide opportunities for refugees to be effectively integrated into their local communities.
President of the Olympics Committee, Mr Bach, quoted Nelson Mandela: “Sport can become the glue that binds communities together, breaking down social and gender barriers and promoting peace and equality. Sport has the power to bring people together no matter what their background or where they come from. Sport always builds bridges, it never erects walls. Above all, sport brings hope.”
The committee has begun building safe spaces for accessing and enjoying sports around the world. The head of the Olympic refugee team, Ms Telga, spoke of her experience growing up. She faced gender inequalities in accessing and enjoying sports, exacerbated by the conflict in Kenya and South Sudan. She said “I don’t belong to Kenya. After all the support I received from the UN African representatives and women from around the world, I realised, I belong to the world. And more importantly, I belong to those who need my help.”
Another member of the panel, Ms Lookonyen, a world-record marathon runner and a member of the Rio Olympics refugee team, spoke of how she ran 10km to school every day, not because she believed it was a sport, but as a way to exercise her right to education. Sport shows that the values of shared humanity overcome the forces that want to divide us.
Big thanks to Katie for sending us her insights and representing FBB at this high-level event!